Talking About Herpes in the Supermarket

This poem was a F(r)iction Fall Literary Competition finalist.

I call Ellen to panic. We whisper risk factors, transmittable,
outbreak, open sore
. (I am searching for an empty
aisle, some privacy. Also, for tonight’s dinner.)
He will cook me tilapia in a scallion butter sauce.
I will drink Riesling from a mason jar. I don’t want you
to be worried
, he’ll say. I will kiss between
his shoulder blades. I will carry
onion peels to the trash. I will crack open
the kitchen window.

I am not mad at him. I am mad at this salad dressing.
I am mad at everything in Aisle 5: fifteen types
of Tabasco sauce, three kinds of Grey Poupon, cheap
mayo, fancy mayo, mayo with olive oil, olive oil with vinegar,
vinegar with red wine, everything mixed, bottled
together, dirty with too many flavors. How can I savor any
if they tumble, vinaigrette after vinaigrette, vying
to taste better than the last? How I wish
to have been there for the first marriage
of honey and mustard. Imagine: nothing
would ever taste better. Imagine: I have discovered
. Imagine: enough, this is enough.

Kendra Poole

Kendra Poole is from Albuquerque, NM and graduated from the George Washington University with a degree in English and Creative Writing. Kendra is a poet who also dabbles in politics, journalism, and international development. She enjoys reading, biking, traveling, jazz, and bagels. After college, she traveled to rural Tanzania to work with the 2Seeds Network in agricultural and community development. Kendra considers herself lucky to have had many opportunities to travel and live throughout Africa, Europe, and Central America. She now works as a freelance writer and volunteers her time as a Swahili translator for East African refugees resettling in Albuquerque. Instagram: @kendrapoole13.